LaserMAME is a program (and associated hardware) created by my friend Matt Polak, along with Rob Mudryk and Ian Wood. It allows you to play old vector graphics style arcade games with lasers.

Vintage computer users and gamers love LaserMAME because it allows them to play old games like Asteroids and Gravitar on huge screens. Because laser light is has a low divergence, you can play on the sides of buildings, even on clouds. It makes your neighbor's big screen TV look like a runt. LaserMAME works in much the same way as a normal laser show. Like the old vector scanning monitors used in the orginal arcade games, laser images are also created by through vector scanning. However, instead of moving an electron stream as in a monitor, lasers are driven by a pair of galvanometers, one scanning the X-axis, and the other the Y-axis.

LaserMAME includes an ISA card (soon to be PCI) which drives the scanners, and a software set which functions as a normal MAME cabinet and parses the information from the game so it can be interpreted by the card and rendered as laser graphics.

Unfortunately, current laser scanning technicques really start to have problems with either larger, complex images, or scan rates much above 30k. This is because the inertia of the front-surfaced mirror on the galvanometer causes the mirror to overshoot. In slight cases, this simply makes the image look crappy, with funny stretched and rounded corners. In extreme situations, the excess torque on the scanner can cause it to fail, a very bad thing, as scanners aren't cheap. Because of this, newer (relatively speaking) vector graphic games don't adapt well to LaserMAME because as the games grew more complex, they eventually reached a point where they contain to much information for the laser to scan. Thankfully, however, we will soon have laser video.

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